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Sierra announces launch of conversational AI platform for customer service - SiliconANGLE

Sierra Technologies Inc. today announced the launch of its conversational artificial intelligence platform designed to help companies interface with their customers using AI agents that can make recommendations, answer questions, take actions on behalf of employees and elevate the customer experience.

The company, co-founded by ex-Salesforce Chief Executive Bret Taylor and former Google executive Clay Bavor, said that the idea of using AI agents would provide companies an easy way to give customers a way to interact with brands by having a conversation at any time of day.

“Conversational AI is so intuitive and frictionless, we believe it will have an impact on your customer experience on par with the internet,” Sierra said in the blog post announcement. “In the age of conversational AI, the best customer experience is not installing an app or clicking a link, but simply having a conversation.”

Sierra uses a conversational AI model that allows it to perform natural language conversations with customers and understand business data from within the company. This allows AI agents to be contextually aware of how to resolve customer service needs, such as if a customer wants to know when a store is open, how to find directions or how to open a ticket for a return.

According to the company, the AI agents are also able to take actions on behalf of employees such as initiating and completing the sequences of taking the information needed for opening that return ticket and finalizing it. This means that customers will be able to complete certain tasks through company chatbots via self-service and never need to talk to a human.

Of course, as with anything automated by technology, not everything can be completed with just the information accessible in a database. If the automated system hits a wall, the AI agent will gather enough information in a friendly, conversational manner so it can summarize it for a human agent to continue the call to complete it, the company said.

So far, Sierra has partnered with a few big names to begin building AI agents on the platform including WeightWatchers International Inc., audio entertainment company SiriusXM Holdings Inc. and audio equipment manufacturer Sonos Inc.

Using the platform, WeightWatchers built an agent to assist members in making healthier meal choices for weight loss, manage memberships and work with them on other customer service issues. According to Sierra, the WW agent has handled almost 70% of all customer sessions in place of human contact and earned itself a 4.6 out of 5 customer satisfaction score.

“We’re going to grow in ways that resonate with a more digitally forward consumer, and a key part of that will be embracing AI to help improve the member experience,” said WeightWatchers CEO Sima Sistani.

Sierra said that agents built by the company stay true to the brand and can understand jargon and typos. Agents are also designed to remain authentic and understanding even when customers are emotional. Under the hood, the company said that the platform includes auditing and quality assurance tools that will help management teams understand the reasoning behind every interaction using a system of record that explains all behaviors. When an agent is accessing data, it is also designed to comply with strict data protection designed to align with privacy policies and access controls.

The company also stressed that one of the issues faced by modern large language model conversational AIs is “hallucinations,” or when an AI model misrepresents or presents false information. When this happens it can misguide or confuse customers, which can greatly damage the relationship between customers and the business. Sierra said that it is working on solving these problems.

Photo: Sierra


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